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The Globe and Mail

Highlights from Toronto's bizarre, scandal-plagued race for mayor

TorontoCity Mayoral Candidate Rob Ford is photographed during an interview at The Globe and Mail in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Deborah Baic/The Globe and MailToronto,/Deborah Baic/The Globe and MailToronto,

Incumbent steps back

September, 2009 - Coming off a smelly summer garbage strike that gave his popularity a nosedive, Mayor David Miller announces he won't run for a third term. Would-be mayors waiting in the wings to duke it out with Mr. Miller apparently miss that memo, however: They spend the next several months shadow-boxing a non-existent incumbent.

Giambrone bows out

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February, 2010 - Adam Giambrone, Toronto Transit Commission chair and heir apparent to Mr. Miller's regime, announces he won't run again after a text-message-based sex scandal hounds him for days. (He'd reversed his story on whether he had a relationship with a 19-year-old student while still with his long-time partner, Sarah McQuarrie.) Without their putative golden boy, the city's left turns to veteran councillor and deputy mayor Joe Pantalone.

Ford's OxyContin call

June, 2010 - Rob Ford becomes the centre of media furor after a 52-minute phone call is made publicin which he offers to try to "score" the painkiller OxyContin for HIV-positive man Dieter Doneit-Henderson, who also suffers from chronic pain. Mr. Ford emerged largely unscathed, however. He filed a harassment complaint with the police and claimed he was just trying to appease an agitated man who knew where the Etobicoke councillor lived.

Mammoliti calls it quits

Panda-loving, flagpole-erecting Giorgio Mammoliti announces he's ending his mayoral bid to run for his North York council seat instead. Mr. Mammoliti, who ran on the tagline "Outrageously in touch" and put forward such bold ideas as a red-light district, floating casino and a park on the Gardiner Expressway, had been badly trailing mayoral front-runners. Several months later, he made up with former council nemesis Rob Ford when he endorsed the Etobicoke councillor's mayoral bid.

And this time he means it

August, 2010 - John Tory, the most talked-about candidate not in the Toronto mayoral race, is not running, for real. He first announced in January he wasn't running, after months of speculation the former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader would take another shot at the mayor's chair. That speculation was rekindled over the summer, stoked by Tory aficionados disappointed with the existing mayoral slate. In August, the talk radio host and Toronto City Summit Alliance chair made it official - again: He really wasn't running. Really.

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Impaired driving and temporary amnesia

August, 2010 - When asked by a reporter about a decade-old drunk-driving conviction and (subsequently dropped) drug possession charge from Valentines Day 1999, Rob Ford says it "completely, totally slipped my mind." But that memory lapse didn't prevent the photo from Mr. Ford's Miami booking from being splashed in newspapers, on television and online. Despite pundits' predictions to the contrary, the less-than-flattering revelation didn't affect Mr. Ford's standing in the polls.

A commanding lead and a crop of pseudo-Fords

September, 2010 - A Nanos poll for The Globe, CTV and CP24 gives Rob Ford a huge 24-percentage-point lead. The sizable, city-wide support makes the Etobicoke councillor the centre of attention, and sparks breathless discussions of a "Ford phenomenon." Meanwhile, Mr. Ford's opponents start to look eerily similar: George Smitherman talks about a "war on waste" and Rocco Rossi vows to slice council in half. Now where have we heard that before?

Thomson steps back - and backs Smitherman

September, 2010 - Sarah Thomson, the neophyte politician no one in the city had heard of a year ago, who fashioned herself as a self-made entrepreneur in debate after debate, has only single-digit support and calls it quits. She throws that support behind George Smitherman, and is seen behind him and introducing him at numerous events over the following weeks.

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Duelling endorsements

September - October, 2010 - Calling him "a very good friend" who "values taxpayers' money," federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty throws his support behind Rob Ford; he's joined by several of Mr. Ford's fellow councillors, including Mike Del Grande and Peter Milczyn. Mr. Smitherman, for his part, earns endorsements from former mayors Art Eggleton and David Crombie, both of whom normally refrain from endorsements but argue the stakes in this election are too high not to.

Miller goes to bat for his deputy; organized labour, not so much

October, 2010 - Mayor David Miller, who refrained from making formal endorsements for most of the campaign, formally announced his already-evident preference for his loyal deputy mayor, arguing Joe Pantalone is the only real city-builder among the candidates. In the meantime, however, Mr. Pantalone loses key supporters in organized labour when one of the city's largest umbrella unions, the Central Ontario Building Trades, backs George Smitherman.

A final poll, and some nasty ads

October, 2010 - An Ekos poll released the Friday before the election gives Rob Ford an 8.3 per cent lead over rival George Smitherman, and indicates his advantage grows even larger among Toronto's immigrant communities. Over the weekend, growing ad campaigns turn dirty when an ad on Tamil-language radio suggests Mr. Ford is a preferable candidate because "his wife is a woman." Ads affixed to Mr. Smitherman's lawn signs on the Danforth and in the Beaches also cast aspersions on the former deputy premier's sexuality.

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